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Step 1: Identifying Your Learning Needs

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What is a Learning Need?

The first step in the CPD process is to identify your learning needs (also known as learning objectives). A learning need is the gap between the skills and knowledge you currently have (your competence) and the skills and knowledge you could or should have with respect to your context of practice. Identifying learning needs will help you develop strategies that reduce this gap, maintain your competence and improve your practice. Identifying and writing down your learning needs is the first part of developing a learning plan; it will also make selecting education easier.

Learning Needs, Goals, Objectives or Knowledge Gaps?

Many different terms are used when talking about learning needs. Ausmed uses and recommends the term 'learning need', in line with the terminology used in the NMBA CPD Standard. According to the Standard, nurses are required to demonstrate that they haveidentified and prioritised their learning needs, based on an evaluation of their practice against the relevant competency or professional practice standards.

 

 

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How to Write a SMART Learning Need

The SMART method provides a memorable and useful way of developing and writing your learning needs. SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific - is it clear and precise?
  • Measurable - can you measure your progress effectively?
  • Achievable - is it realistic?
  • Relevant - does it relate to your context of practice?
  • Timely - have you defined a timeframe for completion?

Using Ausmed's CPD Organiser to Write and Manage Your Learning Needs

Ausmed offers a free online CPD portfolio designed to support nurses and midwives with the development and tracking of their CPD hours or CE points. The CPD Organiser contains a handy tool which helps you to write, manage and update your learning needs throughout the year.

 

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Examples of Best-practice Learning Needs

Here are some examples of learning needs that have been written using the SMART method. These learning needs relate to the nursing and midwifery professions.

  • To update my knowledge of wound dressings for venous ulcers over the next 30 days.
  • To be able to competently perform and interpret a 12 lead ECG within 60 days.
  • To better understand safety around chemotherapy before I start on the oncology ward this January.

A List of Action Words and Phrases to Use When Writing Your Learning Needs

Here is a list of action words and phrases to assist you in writing down your learning needs.

Understand Simulate Review Explain Learn to operate...
Interpret Differentiate Identify Distinguish Learn to recognise...
Clarify Apply Calculate Practice To better identify...
Analyse Appraise Compare Detect Draw conclusions from...
Explore Organise Rewrite Revise Be able to point out...
Plan Discern Consider or Examine Collect Build my confidence in...
Describe Extend Evaluate Assess Summarise the...
Re-learn Validate Measure Collaborate Be able to explain...

 

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